The Severe Spotlight: Mauricio Ruffy

The headline of Saturday night prior to fight week was Brazil against the world. The disparate cities, towns, and districts electing their champions to represent the illustrious fighting colours of Green, Blue and Yellow that draped the shoulders, fists, and backs of said champions. However, as we crept up into fight week, and the enemy ships landed, the worlds warriors trudged their way through the baying crowds, the ground underneath their feet rumbling with the echoes of “UH VAI MORRER” the mood changed. Through the dust clouds whipped up by the masses descending on Rio, the numbers parted and riding down from the mountains from where he had rested for the past 18 months, greeted only by silence and bowed heads was the true star of the show, the King of Rio: José Aldo.

The nights tally ended with Brazil riding back to their families with 10 heads on spikes, as the worlds warriors escaped with a mere 3 Brazilian scalps, amongst those, Mauricio Ruffy exploded to a first-round win over Jamie Mullarkey. Saturday night was Ruffy’s full UFC debut, with a win on DWCS cementing a contract with the promotion and what a way to introduce yourself both to the promotion, and to your fellow locals.  

Chest out, chin proud Ruffy sauntered to the centre of the cage, batting any nerves away via a leaning slammed low kick to the outside of the Mullarkey left leg. Immediately followed by a staunch, powerful stance with a wide, inviting guard. His left hand beckoning Mullarkey to circle toward the power hand, whilst his footwork kept Mullarkey behind the tramlines.

Something Ruffy will go back and review is his evasion from the Mullarkey hands in this first minute, he evades the kicks cleanly, elongating and curving his spine to hide his midriff away as he bounces out of the pocket, but when Mullarkey attacks with straight shots, Ruffy evades in a straight line. Notoriously this is something that will cause him problems in the future against switch strikers.

The energy just vibrates out of Ruffy as he maintains his range, and openly looks for his shots, whether it be the low lead kick, or the lead left jab that has found and marked the face of Mullarkey inside two lands.

As we roll into the second and third minutes of the fight Ruffy’s jab becomes more cultured, his outside footwork ramps up and his willingness to exchange with Mullarkey having made reads on the power and speed of Mullarkey increases. Ruffy has made the read that as Mullarkey is going to enter the pocket he dips his level, adding weight into his front leg. Ruffy is timing this reaction and either landing with the lead left, or when switched to southpaw, drops a jamming, thudding right hook into the eye socket of Mullarkey. The level of aliveness to react in those moments, in your UFC debut, on a night like Saturday night, is mighty impressive.

Mullarkey made a decision. As we creep into the fourth minute of the fight. The decision is that he is going to try to walk through the first counter Ruffy sets him up with and throw in bunches.  The first iteration of this throws Ruffy off, who again backs up in a straight line, but does a good job of finding a counter left hand, and a jousting protruding left frame, that Mullarkey rolls under to continue his attacks. Ruffy elects to use a Philly Shell variation against the fence to roll with the oncoming shots, evading well and circling back out to space and get right back to landing his straight jab.  

The straight right with 1:15 left wobbles Mullarkey and he stays with his head dipped for a moment. That is the read Ruffy needs to set up the finish shortly after.

A flying Kani Basami is not something that you see in MMA every day, and yet here Ruffy is, setting one up with a right hook to hide it. Mullarkey does a fantastic job of clearing his knee line immediately and wrestling up with an underhook, however Ruffy maintains a good head position and stands back into the clinch.

No sooner that the pair find their way back to the centre of the cage does Ruffy land a clean right hand and wobble Mullarkey. His retreat to the cage increases in velocity as Ruffy slams another right hand into him before launching into a switch jump knee, with very little wind up or sell, that staggers Mullarkey backwards and drops him to the canvas. The shot selection here is clean, crisp, and precise. Ruffy lands impactfully, with certain thudding damage until Mullarkey finds his way back to the sanctuary of the mat and referee Mike Beltran halts a stop to the fight.

With unorthodoxy mixed with damage, and a confidence that emanates like it did on Saturday, Mauricio Ruffy is an interesting addition to 155lb.

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